YEA BABY!!! I am back better than ever, stronger than ever and more excited than I have ever been about the automotive industry and my role in it. It is no secret that I have skipped the last three NADA conventions and numerous other conferences. Hey, sometime we all need a break to regroup our thoughts and rebuild our energy. The automotive industry sucks you in and does not let you leave. You know what? I am proud of that. I have built a wonderful career in this industry and no matter what I will always have my heart in it. This year was different because I had the one and only Mr. EL Patronn with me at every step of the way.
So let’s talk about NADA 2018 and my thoughts on what I believe is currently the big thing in the automotive industry. It is incredible how the industry moves and what was so hot yesterday is obsolete today. I remember my first NADA convention in 2009 where social media, search engine optimization and video were the hot topics. The FLIP camera was getting popular. I even came home from the convention and bought one. Let’s fast-forward to 2018 and these topics are now at a more advanced level. Social media, chat and mobile applications to create lead generating opportunities for dealers to sell more cars are the biggest trend in retail automotive right now.
I have spent some time with the folks at CarNow both in their booth and hanging out at night. I learned about the game that they are changing and what they are doing to help dealers go to the next level. Remember when chat was just a widget on the website and then a person at the dealership would start answering questions? How did that work out? For me personally it would sell around five units per month. Then the industry shifted to chat companies having outsourced agents that were trained to handle chat. Well here we are in 2018 and we have CarNow. I consider them to be chat on steroids and more! Huge shout out to Tim Cox and Mike Murphy.
Take the power of chat, trained agents, inventory integration, virtual brochures, vehicle comparisons, video integration, text invites, email invites, live tracking to display shopper behavior and more to create a platform that truly helps put deals on the board. I love that a chat agent can start the conversation while the system alerts the dealership and a rep from the dealership can jump in the conversation like a real TO and make appointments. There are plenty of companies that were at the show that are trying to go in this direction. This is where the industry is headed.
We got to meet up with Jason Girdner and Scarlet Mick of Tecobi for a few minutes. Tecobi is another game changing product and service that is a must for car dealers that want to be rock stars. I would not consider them to be a competitor to anything that we saw at NADA. I believe they are truly the only ones in the market to do what they do. Yes you can sell cars from Facebook in 2018. Tecobi will help you get it done!
Applications that create accountability for social media and reputation management in dealerships among employees are also the next HUGE thing. My good friend Jason Geras, CEO of Geras Associates is now doing for dealers what they have needed all these years. He created The Next Sale APP, which is the number 1-dealership app in the world. Now getting a review from the customer and a video testimonial is easier than ever before. It holds employees accountable and makes this part of the sales process mandatory. Every employee in the dealership can now promote the dealership as well as themselves with this program. The goal is to decrease advertising expense while increasing marketing opportunity and holding people accountable. Coming from a strong automotive retail background Jason was able to create this masterpiece for dealers.
Cox Automotive has become the biggest solutions provider in the industry. I say this because there was a whole section that was dominated by the likes of AutoTrader, VinSolutions, DealerTrack, vAuto, Dealer.com, Kelley Blue Book, Manheim Auctions, xTime and other Cox affiliations. I never saw anything like this before. They have become a one-stop shop for dealers. It was nice to see my friend Maria Guarino from AutoTrader as well as the legendary Dale Pollak from vAuto.
Another powerhouse that is making moves is Cars.com with acquisition of Dealer Inspire. They also own DealerRater.com. I have a feeling that Cars.com is on the way to becoming as huge as Cox Automotive one day and we will be seeing many more acquisitions. Shout out to Alex Vetter, the CEO of cars.com. It was great to catch up with him. Also shout out to Todd Newman, the cars.com leader in New York! Cars.com and DealerRater.com both interviewed EL Patronn top gain his insight in the industry since he is a leading authority in the industry.
I got to meet up with some very old dear friends like Barry Brodsky of eAuto Appraise, Cory Mosley, Dealer eProcess folks (Yago Paramo, Dave Page and Joe Gillespie), some old friends from Stream Companies like Curtis DeGrotte and Subi Gosh and many more. That Subi Gosh is one incredible marketer and automotive industry executive. I have known her for so many years and I have been proud to see her grow. I met many other friends along the way like Owen Moon. I love seeing Steve Stauning because the guy knows his stuff and is a true advocate in our industry. I went out with my buddy Kevin Lepine from DealerSocket one night too. A real treat to bump into is my dear friend Melissa Kagan from Netsertive. It is funny that EL Patronn thinks that I am an encyclopedia of automotive industry people since I know everyone. I keep telling him that this is why I am “Social Sher”.
Want to really be impressed? Check out VistaDash by PCG companies. Dan Moore is a very old friend and brilliant automotive marketing executive. He blew me away with this reporting and analytics tool. I used to need five computer monitors and thirty log ins to spend hours analyzing the data in my dealerships. Now with this tool I get everything I need done in fifteen minutes. Dealers, what is that worth to you? I made EL Patronn sign up Brooklyn Mitsubishi for this platform. It was nice to see old friends Glenn Pasch, Micah Birkholz and Brian Pasch as well.
We signed up Brooklyn Mitsubishi with the Driving Sales Human Capital Management program. This is the ultimate accountability app for dealerships to recruit, train, retain, promote and hold employees accountable. The program will come loaded with powerful content. As the dealership utilizes the program we will add Dealer eTraining content that will train sales and marketing strategies to employees of the dealership. We will create our own product and later have the ultimate real deal training solution for auto dealers powered by not only our training but also training from EL Patronn live from his dealership.
I am noticing that since CRM and dealer websites have become a standard thing to have in dealerships that the attention is not so much on them anymore. What I loved about this NADA is that we were not beating a dead horse talking about the same strategies over and over again. But what really surprised me is that I thought I would hear more about Digital Retailing. I know some dealers are getting into it and seeing some results but the topic is not as hot as I would have loved to see. Consumers and a lot of my civilian friends will keep saying how they wish they could just do everything without visiting the dealership. I will continue to say what I learned when I got into the business, “The Feel Of The Wheel Makes The Deal”! There are some things that I personally like to go buy in person because I need to physically experience it. For myself I will not buy or lease a vehicle unless I see what I am getting in person. Make no mistake though. Digital Retailing will get huge as the culture of it spreads and more people see that it is possible.
One thing that I did different for this NADA is that I had my own entourage. Mr. EL Patronn did this is as a team together. We had our friend Craig Bono of SenText Solutions with us. Talk about mobile marketing on steroids. Want to own your PMA? You need to speak to him about this solution. I believe that this product is great to implement with a social media strategy. EL Patronn, Craig Bono and myself rocked NADA in style visiting some great parties and making new friends. One night we met all of the executives at Mitsubishi Motors including their CEO, Fred Diaz. EL Patronn was being interviewed everywhere and we were honored to see him go on live with Modern Dealership Magazine thanks to our friend Joey Little.
We did not just go to the NADA Convention. No. We went to Henderson Hyundai in Las Vegas. We ran a sales meeting between EL Patronn and myself where we also went live on Facebook. I got to really explore this wonderful store. Shout out to our friend Steve Armengau, General Manager of Henderson Hyundai for having us there. Steve is just like us, a New Yorker that turns dealerships in the West Coast around! He just crushed it and finished with over 300 cars for March in his first month at the store. I want to do more of these as I attend more conferences and conventions!
EL Patronn and I showed dealers how to do Social Media right by going Facebook live everywhere we went. EL Patronn coined the phrase “We goin liv kidd” and it is spelled just how you read it too. Congratulations to EL Patronn and his team at Brooklyn Mitsubishi for crushing their 100 New Car challenge in March where they broke all time records for new car sold. Brooklyn Mitsubishi sold 357 total new and used vehicles and is officially on the map at the top Mitsubishi dealership in the country. We at Dealer eTraining and Auto Ad Builder could not be anymore proud to be their official social media and video marketing partner.